Friday, August 13, 2010

Doubting is Uniquely American

It’s appalling, really, to observe the lengths that Americans will go to doubt what they see and hear. To cast doubt on anything that one sees that is unexpected or out of the ordinary.

I’ve always wondered why that is, and now I think I have an answer, thanks to the performance of Jackie Evancho and the stormy internet flame wars that erupted in her wake. And now I also have an answer for this question: why did I post a piece on her performance yesterday, a piece quite out of the ordinary for a political blog.

People make suspects out of extraordinary individuals.

To be extraordinary a person out performs all others in their area of expertise. And people by their very nature feel threatened in the face of excellence. They feel ordinary. They feel inadequate. They become miserable and unhappy with their lives.

So when Jackie Evancho belted out that Puccini aria the other night, the immediate reaction was disbelief. She was lip syncing. The microphone had been altered. To accept those explanations, though, is to also accept the fact that this was a plot hatched by the girl’s parents and the producers of the NBC reality series. The entire thing was an elaborate hoax and gullible viewers and members of the live audience were all fooled.

Isn’t that just so sad?

Imagine the scandal that would ensue should all be revealed that this was all staged. Memory isn’t so short that the folks that produce TV shows have forgotten the public furor that erupted when it was revealed that Xavier Cugat was fed the answers for the 50’s TV game show “$64,000 Question.”

It’s just so sad and such a poor reflection on our society.

It’s just as sad as those who dismiss our president’s glib speeches by emphasizing the presence of Telepromptrs, as if that explained why Barack Obama has such a keen sense of timing and stage presence. His speeches are polished to perfection but because he doesn’t memorize them, that makes him a fake.

Indeed, it is this same behavior that lies behind the “Birther” movement. The very legitimacy of this president is questioned. When has the citizenship of a president ever been questioned? Never. So just as little Jackie isn’t really a child prodigy because she has an altered microphone, Barack Obama isn’t really president because he was born in Kenya.

We Americans are experts at inventing the facts when our sense of adequacy is in danger of being questioned, aren’t we.

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